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Borneo's Orang-utans

Tour Code: MYS02

An 11-day tour to the rainforests of Borneo in search of the endearing Orang-utan and other wildlife.

11 days from £4495(inc flights) Land Only Price: £3995 SRS: £495

There are few more endearing animals on the planet than the Orang-utan, and the principal focus of our holiday will be this gentle and endangered great ape. We will visit the Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre, where we’ll see semi-wild Orang-utans, many of which have been orphaned, in the latter stages of a rehabilitation process designed to allow their eventual release into the wild. We’ll then return to Sandakan and take a boat down the Kinabatangan River where we’ll hope to encounter wild Orang-utans, troupes of Proboscis Monkey and perhaps Asian Elephant amongst the region’s riverine forest. We’ll then visit the Gomantong Caves before concluding our tour with a 4-night stay at the amazing Borneo Rainforest Lodge in the Danum Valley Conservation area, one of the finest wildlife lodges anywhere in the world!

  • Pristine rainforests, home to hornbills, malkohas, broadbills & pittas
  • Includes a visit to Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre in Sepilok Reserve
  • Opportunity to see wild Orang-utan plus troupes of Proboscis Monkey at Kinabatangan
  • Varied & colourful avifauna such as Storm’s Stork & endemic Bornean Bristlehead
  • The Gomantong Caves (for bats, Bat Hawks, swiftlets & possibly edible-nest harvesting)
  • Night-time excursions to look for Flying Squirrel, Buffy Fish Owl & other nocturnal wildlife
  • Led by an expert naturalist guide



Included in the price, except for any meals required in Kota Kinabalu. Allow £10.


Comfortable eco-lodges, all rooms with private facilities.



Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Depart London

Day 2 Arrive Kota Kinabalu and fly Sandakan. Overnight Sepilok

Day 3 Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre

Day 4/5 Kinabatangan River

Day 6/9 Danum Valley

Day 10 Depart Kota Kinabalu

Day 11 Arrive London

There are surely few more endearing creatures in the world than that gentle rainforest giant, the Orangutan.  A close affinity with Homo sapiens is obvious, and gazing into the solemn inscrutable features of an old male, or observing the impish behaviour of youngsters at play, it is easy to appreciate their evolutionary links with mankind.  Sadly, in its native Sumatra and Borneo, the ‘old man of the forest’ has been subjected to relentless pressures which have reduced its world population by as much as 50% during the last 10 years to a meagre 25,000 animals. Hunting for meat and the demands of the pet trade have been contributory factors, but more significant has been the large-scale clearance of forest throughout the region, leaving dwindling habitats for the apes.

The principal focus of our holiday will be Orang-utans but, as we visit some of the most magnificent rainforests on Earth, we will also be entering the domain of many wonderful birds, mammals and insects, including another threatened primate, the bizarre Proboscis Monkey. Our tour begins with a flight to Kuala Lumpur, the modern capital of Malaysia. From here we quickly progress by air to Kota Kinabalu, in Sabah, and thence to Sandakan where we drive a short distance to the Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre. This extraordinary place was established in 1964 to help once captive or displaced Orangutans learn to fend for themselves back in the wild and, during our time at Sepilok, we will see every facet of the work carried out there.  Everyone will undoubtedly fall in love with the wide-eyed and bewildered little orphan Orangs, which are regularly taken into care and exemplify the scale of the problem faced by the Centre, as adult apes are ruthlessly slain to facilitate the felling of more trees. 

Returning to Sandakan we take a boat along the Kinabatangan River to spend two nights at the Sukau Rainforest Lodge.  As we explore the river tributaries and hidden oxbow lakes we will be hoping to encounter our first wild Orang-utans foraging in the riverine forest. We will also no doubt be observed by troupes of potbellied and comic-looking Proboscis Monkeys, another animal threatened by forest clearances. After making the initial acquaintance of Sabah’s stunning birdlife around Sepilok, we now have the opportunity to consolidate this experience as we meet hornbills, pittas, kingfishers, broadbills, woodpeckers and many other representatives of the very extensive avifauna. The rare Storm’s Stork is occasionally recorded at Sukau, and we also have a chance of glimpsing Asian Elephants at the river edge. An excursion to the legendary Gomantong Caves will bring alive scenes familiar from TV documentaries as numerous swiftlets dash into these vast cathedral-like cave systems, their nests forming the unlikely basis of ‘bird’s-nest soup’, and at dusk there is a spectacular exodus of several million bats which emerge like plumes of smoke to fan out over the surrounding ocean of trees.

We conclude our tour at the Danum Valley Conservation Area, where we spend four nights at the superbly situated Borneo Rainforest Lodge. The Danum Valley contains one of the last remaining tracts of primary lowland dipterocarp forest and is renowned as one of the very best natural history sites in south-east Asia. We have a very good chance of finding more Orangutans in the forests here, indeed all 10 species of primate found in Sabah have been recorded in the Danum Valley, together with a quite remarkable selection of mammals, birds and reptiles. As is usual in such forest habitats, many of the inhabitants are difficult to find or nocturnal in habits but, with several full days to explore the area, we are assured many exciting observations. The prolific birdlife includes a number of pheasants, eight species of hornbill, the endemic Bornean Bristlehead and a whole host of other Asian specialities. Mention should also be made of the many exotic butterflies which occur in a diversity of colour and form to enhance every day in the field.
At the end of this memorable tour we will have learnt much about Orang-utans and hopefully enjoyed the rare privilege of watching them in the wild.

Orangutan on boardwalk - Sepilok (Dani Free)Whiskered Tree Swift (Dani Free)Water Monitor Lizard (Dani Free)View from Borneo Rainforest Lodge (Dani Free)Sukau Lodge (Dani Free)Spectacled Spiderhunter (Dani Free)Skink sp. (Dani Free)Sepilok Nature Resort (Dani Free)Sepilok Nature Resort (Dani Free)Room Sukau Rainforest Lodge (Dani Free)Room at Borneo Rainforest Lodge (Dani Free)Rhinoceros Hornbill (Dani Free)Rainforest walkway (Dani Free)Rainforest walkway (Dani Free)Rainforest Silhouette (Dani Free)Rainforest (Dani Free)Borneo Rainforest (Dani Free)Pygmy Squirrel (Dani Free)Prevost's Squirrel (Dani Free)Pig-tailed Macaque Sepilok Orang Rehab Centre (Dani Free)Pair of Whiskered Tree Swift (Dani Free)Outside of Room Sepilok Nature Resort (Dani Free)Outside of Room Borneo Rainforest Lodge (Dani Free)Outside of Room Sepilok Nature Resort (Dani Free)Wild Orangutan (Dani Free)Orangutan on boardwalk - Sepilok (Dani Free)Orangutan on boardwalk - Sepilok (Dani Free)Orangutan in Tree - Sepilok (Dani Free)Wild Orangutan - Borneo Rainforest Lodge (Dani Free)Wild Orangutan (Dani Free)Wild Orangutan (Dani Free)Mother and Baby - Sepilok (Dani Free)Kingfisher s.p. (Dani Free)Wild Orangutan mother with baby (Dani Free)Maroon Leaf Monkey - Gomantong Caves (Dani Free)Maroon Leaf Langur (Dani Free)Long-legged Centipede (Dani Free)Lizard sp. (Dani Free)Lizard sp. (Dani Free)Lizard sp. (Dani Free)Little Spiderhunter (Dani Free)Lantern Bugs (Dani Free)Kingfisher sp. (Dani Free)Group at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge (Dani Free)Group and Milipede (Dani Free)Frog sp. (Dani Free)Female Probiscis Monkey (Dani Free)Dinner - Borneo Rainforest Lodge (Dani Free)Deluxe Room at Borneo Rainforest Lodge (Dani Free)Dan on bridge (Dani Free)Chestnut Munia (Dani Free)Canopy bridge (Dani Free)Butterfly sp. (Dani Free)Butterfly sp. (Dani Free)Borneo Rainforest Lodge (Dani Free)Black Hornbill (Dani Free)Boat Trip (Dani Free)3-horned Rhinoceros Beetle (Dani Free)OrangutanOrangutanOrangutan
Greater Manchester
Very well organised with attention to detail. Great care was taken to meet the needs of all members of the group. It was a real privilege to share the expertise of Terry Reis and Hazwan Suban. This was my first wildlife holiday and a genuine learning experience!
I thought the local guide Hazwan Suban excellent; he knew the bird and mammal species, could identify them on the spot, and could pick them out with his scope to show their details - a very good guide with the advantage of having local knowledge. The three locations where we stayed provided a range of habitats and kept interest levels high. The Orang-utans, the bat cave and exploring the jungle from the river were star attractions, but Danum Valley outclassed them all - undamaged jungle, the canopy walk, the numbers of mammals, birds, and sundry lizards and snakes, and the fact that what we could see was just as it had been for hundreds of years.
Terry was excellent - a good and amusing communicator, very personable and with a great knowledge of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, and he was able to take on some invertebrates as well. Energetic and enthusiastic. Great stuff!
Tour leaders and local organisation was excellent.
A most interested and enjoyable holiday...excellent leaders in the shape of Chris Kehoe, Hamit & Nadir... Their knowledge and enthusiasm was without bounds, to the extent that I became caught up init and am now a convert to bird-watching as well as mammal spotting. Without a doubt, I would consider another Naturetrek holiday.
We had a fantastic trip and Chris Kehoe, together with the local guides, was wonderful. The friendliness of the local people, as well as the diversity of the wildlife and spectacular scenery, made this one of our most enjoyable and memorable holidays! Thank you.
This was an excellent trip. Having started off as someone who mainly wanted to see Orang-utans and with little knowledge of the bird life of Borneo. I am now a convert and enthusiastic about spotting birds and other wildlife. I put this down to the skills of our trip leader Chris Kehoe and local guide Hasmit. Chris managed the trip very well and ensured the group got whatever the individuals wanted from the experience. There was never any pressure to do walks of treks that you did not wish to do. It was obvious that Chris is extremely knowledgeable about the bird-life in particular, and very patient with those of us who were new to this type of holiday. The local guide was also very good and a delightful young man. The whole experience has exceeded expectations.
Hotels were excellent! Surroundings amazing, especially Danum Valley. Staff very accommodating, friendly and always smiling. A very well balanced trip which worked very well for me (first-timer!), especially the Danum Valley - an incredible place to stay and definitely return. I didnt want to leave. Chris did a great job at accommodating everyone and was very well planned and organised. I definitely got a great taste of the Orang-utans, the river life and the Danum Valley forest. The trip leader: What can I say? A star! He made my trip a very enjoyable one, from start to finish. Chris listened to everyone and we had so many great walks/treks/boat rides that he organised. Thanks Chris. The local guides were great guys too! Very knowledgeable and interested to talk to. Always smiling and very reliable. A great mix of people.
I thought the whole trip was just fabulous.
Gerald was a very good guide. He was knowledgeable and enthusiastic. C H.
The guides were very knowledgeable and were able to share their knowledge with the group; there are so many things that I would have missed without their expertise.
Dave Mallon - excellent, patient, considerate, efficient, knowledgeable.
This was yet another awesome Naturetrek tour... All accommodation was excellent. Service great, food very good.
This was my first trip with Naturetrek. I thoroughly enjoyed the holiday and it exceeded my expectations... I found that having a naturalist heading the party was invaluable. I am spreading the word and recommending Naturetrek to anyone who has an interest in nature.
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Thu 6th September 2018 - Sun 16th September 2018



more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £3995 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Thu 5th September 2019 - Sun 15th September 2019



more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £3995 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: Malaysia

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Tom Mabbett
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01962 733051

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Tour Reviews

Very well organised with attention to detail. Great care was taken to meet the needs of all members of the group. It was a real privilege to share the expertise of Terry Reis and Hazwan Suban. This was my first wildlife holiday and a genuine learning experience!
J.P., Greater Manchester